Ancient history

Algeria War

The Algerian War (1954-1962) was a conflict between Algerians and French to win the country's independence.

The conflict resulted in the deaths of more than 300,000 Algerians, 27,500 French soldiers and the exodus of 900,000 French colonists.

Historical Context

France had been establishing itself on the African continent throughout the 19th century and since 1830 they were in Algerian territory. Through the Berlin Conference, borders were defined and France occupied a large part of North Africa.

However, after the Second World War, the UN pressured the imperialist countries to get rid of their colonies or change their status.

France was not experiencing a good moment, after the weakening resulting from the Second World War and the defeat in the war against Indochina (1946-1954).

See also:Berlin Conference


The struggle for Algeria's liberation is now led by the FLN (National Liberation Front). The FLN was led by Ahmed Ben Bella (1916-2012) and was active in urban and rural guerrilla warfare.

On November 1, 1954, a series of terrorist attacks by the FLN was carried out, which are considered to be the beginning of hostilities between France and Algeria.

The French response was to send some 400,000 troops to Algeria, including many who had been in Indochina. This generates protests in France itself, which sees thousands of young people doing their military service in this war.

However, in Algeria, the population is divided. Many Arab-Berbers welcomed French colonization and several French settlers had already built their lives there, identifying more with Algeria than with France itself.

French society is scandalized by the news of the use of torture by the French Army and the FLN and protests against the war begin.


Afraid of losing another colony, in 1958 the French government called General De Gaulle (1890-1970) to manage the crisis. De Gaulle had been commander of the French during World War II and was extremely popular.

The general, however, demands that a new Constitution be promulgated and causes the fall of the Fourth Republic in France. In this way, the Fifth French Republic was born, where the powers of the President are increased and those of the Legislature are diminished.

The New Charter was submitted for referendum on September 28, 1958.

When visiting Algeria in 1958, De Gaulle realized that there was not much he could do and grants the self-determination of the Algerian people. In the same year, the Republic of Algeria was provisionally founded, but fighting continued.

Several French settlers feel betrayed by the general and found the OAS (Organization of the Secret Army) which imposed a terrorist policy with an extreme right orientation with attacks in France and Algeria.

In 1961, this group and some French generals attempted a coup in Algeria against France. The action fails, but reveals the need to find a quick solution to the dispute.

With no support from the population in France and without achieving a victory on the battlefield, de Gaulle was authorized by a popular referendum to negotiate peace with the provisional republican government of Algeria.

See also:Terrorism:definition, attacks and terrorist groups

End of War

Only on March 8, 1962, with the signing of the Evian Agreement, did the war in Algeria end. Subsequently, the peace treaty would be submitted to a referendum to the Algerian people in April.

Then, on July 5, 1962, the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria was proclaimed. After the convening of the Constituent Assembly, Ahmed Ben Bella - leader of the FLN - was led to the presidency.

The violence would continue, as several pieds-noir (black feet, Algerians of European origin) are literally hunted in the country. When they go to France, they are not fully accepted in this society either, because they are seen as inferior.


  • In 1966, Italian-Algerian director Gillo Pontecorvo released the film "The Battle of Algiers" considered a masterpiece of neorealism and fundamental to understanding the conflict.
  • To this day, descendants of French Algerian settlers are not welcomed in France or fail to fully identify with the country. An example is the player Karim Benzema, of Algerian origin, who did not sing the French anthem when he played with the national team.

Read more :

  • Decolonization of Africa
  • Cold War

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